The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, who chaired proceedings on Thursday, condemned Members of Parliament who continuously absent themselves from the House.
His comments follow concerns raised on the Floor of Parliament by Ningo Prampram MP, Sam George about the alarming rate at which MPs sign in without physically appearing in the chamber.
The increasing rate of absenteeism has been identified by some civil society groups as a serious challenge to the development of the legislature.
First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, said MPs who absent themselves without any explanation will be sanctioned.
“There are some people I have noted, everyday I check, their names are here but I have not seen them here in a whole month. That practice is bad. For those who have other official assignments, the standing orders are clear, seek permission from the Speaker. But we should not encourage the practice where people either enter their name and go and do their private business or sit in their office and watch proceedings and claim that they are in the chamber.”
“If you claim to be in traffic and you are found to be doing something else, that is a matter that is reproachable at the privileges committee and I encourage members to look at this issue. Committees that are sitting should come to the chamber first. That has been the ruling since I came to this House.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye has often expressed displeasure at the seeming lack of interest by Members of Parliament in the business of the House.
The Speaker said the poor attendance tells the public that MPs are not serious about the legislature and their work.
85 MPs absented themselves from parliament without permission – Report
Many have complained about some MPs’ seeming apathy to the work of Parliament as they continue to absent themselves for sittings.
Ministers of State who double as Members of Parliament were the worst culprits of absenteeism without permission during the First and Second sittings of the Seventh Parliament, 2017.
The Ministers, including deputies, absented themselves from at least 15 sittings without the permission of the Speaker of Parliament.
This was contained in a report by Odekro; a civil society organization focused on activities of the legislature.
According to the report, the guilty MPs consisted of 18 Ministers and 21 Deputy Ministers.
Speaker meets ’empty’ Parliament; scolds MPs for lateness
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, in October 2017 was angry at Members of Parliament for being late for meetings of the House.
His comments followed the presence of fewer than five MPs on their seats, at the time proceedings were scheduled to begin at 10:00 am.
Disappointed by the emptiness of the House, Prof. Oquaye rebuked the MPs and charged leaders of the House to get members on the floor to do business on time, saying the taxpayers do not expect lateness from them.
“Our people who pay us expect that work should be done, so let us at least take the opportunity to see how we can contain the situation to ameliorate the problem rather than taking advantage of it and going home,” he added.